Timeline to ‘Retribution’ — Isla Vista attacks planned over years
NOTE: Readers of the following article should be advised that portions of Elliot Rodger’s journal can be disturbing and graphic.
ISLA VISTA, Calif. — The Isla Vista killer wrote in his “twisted world” journal that when his “life took a very dark turn” at 17, he began fantasizing about punishing “all of the popular kids and young couples for the crime of having a better life than me.”
Elliot Rodger, 22, stabbed to death three people in his apartment, shot two women to death outside a sorority house and killed another man inside a deli with gunfire before apparently killing himself near the campus of the University of California Santa Barbara on Friday, investigators said.
The summer of 2011, when Rodger turned 19, marked the start of his “endgame,” in which he would either find “love, sex, friends, fun, acceptance, a sense of belonging,” or vengeance against those who did enjoy that life, he wrote.
His extensive screed showed a young man boiling with anger over even the smallest perceived slights. He revealed his growing rage, expressed through tantrums, attacks with coffee, tea and orange juice and the desperate hope that winning a lottery could bring him happiness.
He never won.
The following is an edited timeline of self-described key moments in the disturbing buildup to Rodger’s “Day of Retribution”:
June 4, 2011: Elliot Rodger moved from his mother’s Calabasas, California, apartment into the Capri Apartments near Santa Barbara Community College.
“I was desperate to have the life I know I deserve; a life of being wanted by attractive girls, a life of sex and love. Other men are able to have such a life … so why not me? I deserve it! I am magnificent, no matter how much the world treated me otherwise. I am destined for great things.”
He would give “the world one last chance,” he wrote. “If I still have to suffer the same rejection and injustice even after I move to Santa Barbara, then that will be the last straw. I will have my vengeance.”
July 2011: Rodger splashes coffee and tea on two couples during a jealous rage in separate incidents in July of his first summer in Isla Vista, according to his writing. He became “livid with envious hatred” at the sight of a young couple “kissing passionately” at a Starbucks, he wrote.
“When they left the store I followed them to their car and splashed my coffee all over them. The boy yelled at me and I quickly ran away in fear. … I had never struck back at my enemies before, and I felt a small sense of spiteful gratification for doing so.”
The incident made him realize he “was capable of killing them,” he wrote. “I wanted to kill them slowly, to strip the skins off their flesh. They deserve it. The males deserve it for taking the females away from me, and the females deserve it for choosing those males instead of me.”
He was at a food court later in July, just days before his 20th birthday, when the sight of another kissing couple made him “feel so inferior and worthless and small,” he wrote. He followed them in his car, splashing them with his iced tea, he said. “The hatred boiled inside me with burning vitriol.”
January 2012: Rodger wrote that he splashed two “hot blonde girls” with his Starbucks latte at an Isla Vista bus stop after they “didn’t even deign to smile back” after he smiled at them.
“How dare those girls snub me in such a fashion! How dare they insult me so! I raged to myself repeatedly. They deserved the punishment I gave them. It was such a pity that my latte wasn’t hot enough to burn them. Those girls deserved to be dumped in boiling water for the crime of not giving me the attention and adoration I so rightfully deserve!”
February 2012: Rodger dropped out of all of his classes at SBCC because he didn’t want to see “all of those beautiful girls I could never have.” “When I dropped my college classes, I crossed a threshold that I knew existed, but never actually believed I would cross. It completely ended all hope I had of living a desirable life in Santa Barbara.”
Violent revenge for his loneliness has been “in the back of my mind ever since,” but “I knew that the Day of Retribution was now very possible,” he wrote.
March 2012: Rodger concluded “after a lot of deep thinking” that his only hope to find female companionship — and happiness — was to become wealthy.
“If I could somehow become a multimillionaire at a young age, then my lifestyle would instantly become better than most people my age. I would be able to get revenge on my enemies just by living above them and lording over them. That was a form of happy, peaceful revenge, and it became my only hope,” he wrote.
June 2012: The Mega Millions lottery jackpot was “the only way” to avoid having “to carry out the Day of Retribution,” Rodger wrote.
“Indeed, it was the only way I could attain any sort of wealth at my age. I had no talents, so it was impossible for me to become a professional actor, musician, or athlete; and those were usually the ways that young people acquired such money. I could invent something, or start a business just like Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook, but the chances of me achieving such a thing were the same chances I had of winning the lottery anyway.”
July 2012: Rodger attacked “a group of popular college kids” playing kickball in an Isla Vista park with “a super-soaker, filled it up with orange juice,” he wrote. “Rage boiled inside me as I watched those people who thought they were better than me enjoying their pleasurable little lives together. The rage was so intense that I couldn’t take it.”
Rodger wrote that he was “giddy with ecstatic, hate-fueled excitement” after he fled in his car. “I wished I could spray boiling oil at the foul beasts. They deserved to die horrible, painful deaths just for the crime of enjoying a better life than me.”
August 2012: Rodger wrote that he “spent the whole month meditating in my room or roaming around the park, visualizing the final outcome of my victory.” He believed “the power of the law of attraction” — which he learned about from the book “The Secret” — would help him win the lottery jackpot.
September 2012: Rodger “threw a wild tantrum, screaming and crying for hours on end” when he did not win the Mega Millions $120 million jackpot on September 11, 2012, he wrote.
“I had the knowledge, in the back of my mind, that the Day of Retribution was very possible now.” He visited a gun range in Oxnard, California, “to gain some initial training in shooting guns,” which he wrote would “be the main weapons I use as vengeance against my enemies.”
November 2012: Rodger drove from California to Arizona to purchase tickets for the Powerball’s jackpot, then at $500 million, he wrote. It was the first of four such road trips to Arizona over the next six months to buy Powerball tickets.
“Without the prospect of becoming wealthy at a young age, I had nothing to live for now,” he wrote. “I was going to be a virgin outcast forever. I realized that I had to start planning and preparing for the Day of Retribution, even though I hadn’t yet had any idea of what day that would be.”
December 2012: Rodger bought his first hand gun, a Glock 34 semiautomatic pistol. He wrote that it was his “first act of preparation” for his planned attacks. “I did this quickly and hastily, at a local gun shop … ” he wrote.
Spring 2013: “During this Spring of 2013, I began to seriously think about planning the Day of Retribution,” Rodger wrote. He purchased a second hand gun, which he said was “of a much higher quality than the Glock” he bought in December. The Sig Sauer P226 was “a lot more efficient.”
He had $5,000 saved to “buy all of the supplies and equipment I would need,” he wrote.
“The Spring of 2013 was also the time when I came across the website PUAHate.com,” he wrote. “It is a forum full of men who are starved of sex, just like me.” Rodger said he tried to get his parents to look at the website “to give them some sort dose of reality as to why I am so miserable. They never understood why I am so miserable. They have always had the delusion that everything is going well for me, especially my father.”
It was also during this time that Rodger said he chose Isla Vista as the location for his attacks and a weekend night in November 2013 as the likely time.
“What better place is there to exact my Retribution on my enemies? Every time I walked around Isla Vista, trying to meet girls or fit in with popular kids, I’ve only been treated with disdain, as if I’m an inferior mouse. On the Day of Retribution, the tables will indeed turn, I mused to myself.”
July 2013: Rodger wrote that he attempted a “last ditch effort of desperation” just days before his 22nd birthday “to live an enjoyable college life” in Isla Vista.
“I was giving the female gender one last chance to provide me with the pleasures I deserved from them.” The night ended with his leg broken.
Rodger, intoxicated from shots of vodka, tried to push girls off a 10-foot ledge after a “dark, hate-fueled rage overcame my entire being,” he wrote. Instead, he fell off the ledge and hurt his leg.
“A whole group of the obnoxious brutes came up and dragged me onto their driveway, pushing and hitting me,” he wrote. “I wanted to fight and kill them all. I managed to throw one punch toward the main attacker, but that only caused them to beat me even more. I fell to the ground where they started kicking me and punching me in the face.”
Also that month, Rodger filed a complaint against a roommate who he accused of stealing $20 worth of candles from him, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff.
August 2013: Rodger’s broken leg meant a delay.
“I made a new plan to set the ultimate and final date for the Day of Retribution to be at the end of the Spring of 2014,” he wrote. He added the house where he fell off the ledge in July to his list of targets. “The plan was to destroy the entirety of Isla Vista, and kill every single person in it, or at least kill as many popular young people I could before the police arrive and I’d have to kill myself,” he wrote.
His mother gave him “a better car” in August, he wrote. The BMW 3-series coupe “gave me one last twinge of hope as the remaining months of 2013 passed.”
September 2013: Two new roommates moved into the Isla Vista apartment with Rodger. He quickly added them to the list of people he planned to kill. “I knew that when the Day of Retribution came, I would have to kill my housemates to get them out of the way. ”
January 2014: Rodger picked a date for his attacks: April 26, 2014. He ruled out Valentine’s Day because he needed more time to prepare, although he wrote that the date “would have been very fitting, since it was the holiday that made me feel the most miserable and insulted.”
He would also avoid Deltopia, a spring break celebration that draws thousands of young people to party in Isla Vista in early April. “I saw that there were way too many cops walking around on such an event. It would be impossible to kill enough of my enemies before being dispatched by those damnable cops,” he wrote.
April 2014: The only preparations remaining as Rodger’s chosen date approach was the completion of his “My Twisted World” manifesto and recording his last video, he wrote. He uploaded several videos to YouTube “in order to express my views and feelings to the world” in the week leading up to April 26, he said. One was titled “Why do girls hate me so much?”
Rodger woke up “with a terrible cold” on April 24, forcing him to delay the attacks for a month.
“It was as if fate itself was trying to stop me from doing it,” he wrote. “But what other reason do I have for living? Alas, there was no way I could carry out my plans if I had a cold. Everything had to be perfect.” May 24 would be his new date, he said. It is “the absolute last weekend in the Spring semester in which I can carry out this plan efficiently.”
Rodger’s mother saw his new videos online in late April and called police to ask that they check on her son. Seven officers knocked on his apartment door on April 30, he wrote.
“As soon as I saw those cops, the biggest fear I had ever felt in my life overcame me. I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it.” The police left after he “tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding,” Rodger wrote.
He took down the videos from YouTube that disturbed his mother.
May 2014: “During the last few weeks of my life, I continued my daily adventures around town, trying to experience as much of the world as I could before I die,” Rodger wrote. He uploaded the “Why do girls hate me so much?” video again to YouTube on May 22.
Although Saturday, May 24, was his chosen date, Rodger is believed to have begun his rampage on Friday, May 23.
The first violence happened inside his apartment, where he killed his two roommates and a visitor by repeatedly stabbing them, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. It was not immediately clear at what time he killed them.
Rodger uploaded his final video, in which he described his motives, just before leaving his apartment for his shooting spree.
At 9:17 p.m., he e-mailed his 107,000 word story — titled “My Twisted World” — to about a dozen people, including his parents and a therapists. His mother watched his final video online, called her ex-husband and then police.
Rodger’s parents were driving toward Santa Barbara from Los Angeles County when they heard about the shootings.
Rodger next drove his BMW to the Alpha Phi sorority house at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sorority members heard “loud and aggressive” knocking on their front door, but they did not open it. Witnesses reported seeing Rodger shoot three young women who were standing outside the sorority house from across the street, the sheriff said. Two of the women, both UCSB students, died. The other was hospitalized.
Rodger drove to a nearby delicatessen, where he got out of his car and shot to death another UCSB student, Christopher Michael-Martinez, according to officials.
Rodger drove off to another location “where he fired multiple rounds at two people on the sidewalk.”
He fired his guns through the driver’s side window parallel to the sidewalk as he drove his vehicle down the wrong side of the road, the sheriff said. He shot at a woman before a sheriff’s deputy fired at him. His car struck and injured a bicyclist before Rodger shot four pedestrians, the sheriff said.
Rodger fired at four sheriff’s deputies who confronted him at Little Acorn Park. One of the deputies apparently wounded Rodger in the hip with gunfire as he sped away in his car, the sheriff said.
Another bicyclist was struck by the BMW before Rodger’s car crashed into several parked cars. By the time deputies got to the car, Rodger was dead with an “apparent gunshot wound to the head,” Brown said.